Objective: The aim of this study was to develop and validate an MRI protocol based on a variable echo time (vTE) sensitive to the short T2* components of the sciatic nerve. Materials and methods: 15 healthy subjects (M/F: 9/6; age: 21–62) were scanned at 3T targeting the sciatic nerve at the thigh bilaterally, using a dual echo variable echo time (vTE) sequence (based on a spoiled gradient echo acquisition) with echo times of 0.98/5.37 ms. Apparent T2* (aT2*) values of the sciatic nerves were calculated with a mono-exponential fit and used for data comparison. Results: There were no significant differences in aT2* related to side, sex, age, and BMI, even though small differences for side were reported. Good-to-excellent repeatability and reproducibility were found for geometry of ROIs (Dice indices: intra-rater 0.68–0.7; inter-rater 0.70–0.72) and the related aT2* measures (intra-inter reader ICC 0.95–0.97; 0.66–0.85) from two different operators. Side-related signal-to-noise-ratio non-significant differences were reported, while contrast-to-noise-ratio measures were excellent both for side and echo. Discussion: Our study introduces a novel MR sequence sensitive to the short T2* components of the sciatic nerve and may be used for the study of peripheral nerve disorders.
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